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Ambiguously Intriguing

An artist is always wondering how to push the envelope and create something that engages the audience. While there are many ways of making captivating images, there is one in particular that brings mystery and intrigue.

It is called Ambiguity.

Ambiguity leaves the audience disoriented. It will mess with your sense of depth and gravity. You will look at an impossible object like the Necker Cube or the works of M.C. Escher and wonder where something begins and where it ends.  But Ambiguity is not always found in recognizable elements. It is also found in shapes that hint at things and create confusing identities, like in the work of Yves Tanguy (See picture below)

Ambiguity presents the viewer with questions but doesn’t provide any answers. Finding a resolution is up to you.

Let me be honest. I can pull out a number of images from my photography catalog that would quite nicely fit the category of Ambiguity. However, my images are the result of accidents or bad technique.

Let me also say that there is a fine line between a bad image and an intentional one, in the sense that where a piece of art might fall is sometimes determined by how known the artist is.

The example I offer is this painting by Balthus, entitled The Mountain (see below). It is referred to in a chapter on Ambiguity in a book entitled The Universal Principals of Art. When I look at this, I think – having talent and skill doesn’t mean you will use it wisely. It gives me hope. 

However, we are dealing with the issue of Ambiguity. So, when it comes to The Mountain, the issue is up for debate. 

Two Become One, By Robin Griggs-Wood
Two Become One, Robin Griggs-Wood

Here is one example where a hint of Ambiguity makes for a pleasing and warm image. In this photograph by Robin Griggs-Wood there is a hint of ambiguity in the two-dimensional merging of zebra eyes, where one begins in the place the other ends.

Yves Tanguy
Balthus, The Mountain

Hi I’m Jamuna Burry.
365 DAYS is my personal practice of shipping words and images.

Jamuna Burry

Exploring ideas on creativity through digital art.